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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
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Office sought: Carol Stream Elementary District 93 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Wife (Suzanne) and 2 children (Alyssa, 8 and Zachary, 5)
Occupation: Senior IT Product Manager for Deloitte
Education: Bachelors in Chemical Engineering, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
CCSD93 Facility Committee (2011-current)
CCSD93 representative to the Bloomingdale Intergovernmental Group (2011-current)
CCSD93 Mentor (2012 -- current)
Bloomingdale Baseball and Softball Association Board Member (2010-current)
Bloomingdale Baseball and Softball Manager/Coach (2009-current)
Elected offices held: CCSD93 Board of Education Member (elected April 2011)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The Board of Education needs to continue to challenge our administration to spend what is needed, reduce costs where possible and not automatically take the max tax rate that is allowed (as many taxing bodies commonly do). Over the last two years, CCSD93 has abated millions of potential tax dollars by following these principles.
Key Issue 2
The district has two significant initiatives that will propel the district's commitment to utilizing world class educational practices. As a board member, I will be looking to ensure the initiatives are successful and stay within their approved budgets. The first initiative is the building of a state of the art early childhood center in Bloomingdale which is largely funded by a state grant. This is scheduled for holding its first classes in the fall of 2013. The second initiative is the introduction of our 1:1 digital learning initiative. The initial roll-out started this January. Within the next three school years, all children from preschool to 8th grade will have access to a device that will supplement their learning by increasing personalized learning and helping build them into better digital citizens.
Key Issue 3
Lastly, the district needs to continue providing a safe and nurturing environment for students and staff. The district has taken many steps over the years in regards to securing the schools including designing facilities to restrict direct access into the schools, introducing the Raptor system to identify sex offenders and not allow them into the building and working closely with the local police and fire departments to review crisis management plans and perform yearly drills. As we look ahead, we need to continue to find new ways to further secure our buildings and consider facility changes that will result in safer schools.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
In general, I feel the common core standards are a good change where students, teachers and parents will have a clear vision to what a student should learn in a given grade. In addition, it still allows teachers the ability to teach in their format, ensuring that the standards are met. The standards are truly a first attempt on the road to improve teaching and learning but without sufficient professional development for the teachers, the changes may not be successful so we must commit sufficient resources to ensure this happens.
As a Board of Education, we ensure that the programs are resourced properly and key success factors are defined so we may track the progress of the implementation. Personally, I am not a curriculum specialist so asking my opinions on specifics in the curriculum development would not be a valuable use of resources, but as a person who has managed large scale programs, I can help the Board of Education focus on the overall program, success factors and help shape how we measure success of such projects.
In terms of the current curriculum, our 1:1 digital learning initiative is forcing us to reshape how we educate the students by enabling personalization and introducing external resources into lessons. This has been done with considerable professional development leading up to the start and will continue to evolve as we move into Year 2 of the program in the 2013-2014 school year.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
I am satisfied with the job the district is currently doing to prepare our students for high school. With the introduction of the 1:1 learning initiative, the district is looking forward to the preparation of students for both high school and later life by creating digital citizens that will be able to enter the working world or collegiate life.
What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax increases?
The district continues to only tax for what we need and spend what we have. We do not deficit spend nor look to profit from tax dollars. With property values continuing to reduce in our district, the administration is continually looking for ways to reduce expenses creatively to minimize tax increases. As an example, through an action committee focused on electric usage, the district was able to reduce our electrical consumption by nearly 10% in the 2011-2012 school year which amounts to real savings. We need to continue similar programs to look to minimize expenses and consider other methods to lower our budget.
As contract talks come up with various school employee groups, do you believe the district should ask for concessions from its employees, expect employee costs to stay about the same as they are now or provide increases in pay or benefits?
In order to maintain quality relationships with the employee groups, there must be fairness in every negotiation. All factors must be considered to come to a mutual agreement and concessions need to be made on both sides. I think expecting employee groups to take pay freezes for extended periods of time is not realistic nor is an expectation that large raises will be provided. In the end, finding that middle ground that is agreeable to all stakeholders (employees, administration and taxpayers) is the key to a successful negotiation.
If your district had a superintendent or other administrator nearing retirement, would you support a substantial increase in his or her pay to help boost pension benefits? Why or why not?
No, I would not support this. In today's economy where individuals are struggling to make ends meet, we cannot justify the sins of the past and provide substantial bumps to administrators nearing retirement to boost their pension. In addition with pension reform looming, it's unclear what the future will hold for pension benefits and how that will impact school districts, but it is clear that the double digit increases of the past are not acceptable.